Oil palm cultivation has become a testing ground for implementing the public-private participation module in the propagation of horticulture crops in the State.
For achieving an integrated oil palm development, sources told The Hindu here recently that the responsibility of raising nurseries, area expansion, distribution of inputs, procurement of fresh fruit bunches and the establishment of processing mills has been entrusted to private partners. Now, five entrepreneurs are operating in the State.
Karnataka has been identified as one of potential areas for oil palm cultivation in the country and as per one of the estimates, oil palm cultivation can be taken up successfully in 2.60 lakh hectares in the State.
As oil palm is known to be a water guzzler, the command areas of the Cauvery, the Bhadra, the Krishna the Tungabhadra, the Malaprabha and the Ghataprabha have been identified for propagating oil palm cultivation with assured returns.
At present, oil palm cultivation is being taken up in 11,000 hectares of land with an annual production of oil palm fresh fruit bunches of 14,500 tonnes. The annual production of crude palm oil is 2,497 tonnes.
The sources said that under the Oil Palm Development Programme, a well organised market facility to buy back the produce from farmers has been set up. Oil palm entrepreneurs who have been given specific areas of operation have been entrusted with the responsibility of procuring fresh fruit bunches from farmers at a price fixed by the government.
Prices of oil palm have been decided based on scientific formula approved by the Price Fixation Committee, of which oil palm farmers, oil palm entrepreneurs are members and the Principal Secretary of the Horticulture Department is the Chairman. This year, the price of fresh fruit bunches has been fixed at Rs. 5,291 per tonne and payment is made to the bank accounts of farmers once a month.
To encourage farmers to take up oil palm cultivation, the State government has provided an input assistance of Rs. 16,000 per hectare in the form of inorganic fertilizers for four years and planting material subsidy of Rs. 8,000 per hectare. Subsidies are extended for the purchase of various implements to adopt drip irrigation, inter cropping drilling borewell, water harvesting structures and diesel pumpsets.
At present, oil palm cultivation is being taken up in 11,000 hectares of land
Source : The Hindu